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By Brian Solem, Communications Director


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As gardens across the upper reaches of the US slumber under the fallen leaves of the autumn harvest (and maybe even a dusting of snow), Plant a Seed participants are reflecting on the experience of participating in this year’s campaign, which featured seven different greens that each told a story about their community of origin. 

The benefit to those who grew the seeds found in this year’s kits is obvious: they got to spend the summer tending their crops, watching vibrant greens unfurl one after the other, eventually plucking waxen treasures off their collard plant or sea kale or Yu Choi Sum. But the impact of Plant a Seed, now wrapping up its seventh cycle, goes beyond gardeners and into outdoor classrooms and even to the seed producers who provide seeds each year.

“The seeds are very special to us here and to see them really go out broadly in the world was really fun and meaningful,” reflected Melissa DeSa, seed program director at Working Food, a nonprofit organization based in Gainesville, Florida, that is working towards a just and resilient local food community. Slow Food USA purchased seeds for the Feaster Family Heirloom Mustard from Working Food and shared them with hundreds of home growers through its 2023 seed kit.

“Slow Food USA being able to purchase bulk amounts of seed from us was a very nice financial perk,” said Melissa. In total, Plant a Seed purchased 250 kits worth of seeds from seven seed companies. But beyond supporting emerging seed purveyors like Working Food, the impact of spreading rare or threatened seeds into gardens nationwide speaks to Melissa’s commitment to education and cultivation of significant seeds. “It feels like this once rare variety growing only at a few small homesteads in North Florida might now have a broader audience of stewards.”

Once seeds leave their cultivator’s hands and travel out into the world, they are met by eager gardeners of all ages and levels of experience. Candida Goza got connected to Plant a Seed for the first time in spring 2023. She coordinates senior and community gardens for Washington State University Extension and was looking for a way to maximize her efforts to connect with 180 students in grades 3-5 in south King County, Washington, near Seattle. 

Enter Plant a Seed: Getting free seed kits from Slow Food USA allowed her to spend her modest school garden budget elsewhere. “Being able to receive the seed packets without cost was an immense benefit for our program because that allowed us to use the funds we did have available to purchase the other components of the seed kits (pots, soil, etc.),” said Candida. 

Each of Candida’s students received their own free seed packet of greens to grow with their families, as well as a pot with a tray, a bag of soil and growing instructions. “By early June, a majority of students shared that their greens had already sprouted,” exclaimed Candida. “When I returned to teach in September 2023, I was still getting reports of how their greens were growing and how much they loved their baby greens!”

The Plant a Seed experience allows gardeners the chance to plug into a seed’s origins, communities who cultivated it, and the taste and visual splendor of the plant that emerges from the soil. “As you can imagine, the benefit to the students, their families and our school garden community was huge with all of this knowledge as well as grounding us in the Plant a Seed movement that we had become a part of,” reflected Candida. 

The eighth cycle of Plant a Seed will kick off in February 2024, when our next set of seeds, this time celebrating roots and grains, will be made available for free to school gardens and at an affordable cost to more than 250 home gardeners.